John Rogers was born in 1500 and educated at Cambridge University to become a rector with the church of England. He wanted to translate the Bible into English so that the common man could read the word of God.
The English royalty forbade this, so John moved to Germany and assumed the name of Thomas Matthew to escape detection. He worked with Miles Coverdale and William Tyndale on their translations of the Bible.
John went to Antwerp, Belgium in 1537 to get the “Matthew Bible” published. There were only 1500 copies printed. King Edward VI, a Protestant, came into power in England and this allowed John to return home to his country. His translation became the official Bible of England.
The Rogers Bible was translated from the original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek straight into English, and was not a translation of a translation. Many scholars consider this Bible the first “true and legitimate” translation of the Bible into English.
Queen Mary I later came to reign over England and she destroyed many copies of this Bible, but a few copies survived.
I acquired one page of the Bible and had protective glass installed to preserve the paper, which was made of rags and linen. The wood-pulp paper of today would not have lasted for almost 500 years.
Bloody Queen Mary had John Rogers thrown into prison and later burned at the stake in 1555, but his work survived. There is an eyewitness account of the burning. It is written that the martyr put his hands into the flames and showed no pain.
This precious treasure of our Christian heritage now enriches Mount Zion Methodist Church and memorializes the many members that carry the name of our ancestor, John Rogers.